Hearne: Crotch Rockert Alert; Befuddling Biker Blight Besets Plaza

Bikers happen…

You’ve seen them maybe, holding down the curb and "no parking" area in front of Latteland along 47th Street on the Plaza. By the dozens on weekends during warmer weather and in larger numbers during the summer.

Yet while much has been said of the influx of urban youth – and how uncomfortable they make Plaza patrons – little to nothing has been reported about the equally unlikely biker influx and their stark contrast with the usual mix of patricians and upscale Plaza shoppers.

"They are a bunch of rednecks on crotch rockets who think they look cool," observes one 30-something shopper. "But they just stand out like a crowd of irrelevants mismatched for this environment."

Make no mistake, the Plaza biker dudes are neither high falutin Harley-Davidson types like Bernstein Rein’s Bob Bernstein, nor chain swinging Hells Angels.

 As for what motivates them to pick the Plaza, "I have no idea, that’s a really good question," says Walking Company staffer Nikki. "They just chill out there every weekend – I think they do it to pick up chicks."

Raising the question of whether she’s ever see any hot-looking bikers in the bunch?

"I haven’t," Nikki says. "Actually I think they’re dorks for hanging out there."

"Every once in a while there’s a decent-looking one," adds Walking Company staffer Jessica. "During the summer maybe – like one every two weeks, but not very often – I’ll be honest."

What about clogging up the parking and no parking zones out front?

"The cops never bother them," Jessica says. "They bother the musicians more."

"Well remember, a lot of cops drive motorcyles too, says former biker bar owner Craig Glazer. "So when they see bikers, as long as they’re not causing a problem…but they don’t relate to the musicians."

Plaza habitue Nicholas Abnos (of Abdiana Futon and Firestone building fame) has another take:

"The J.C. Nichols company spent a lot of money to put up the Plaza and put such a beautiful project together and here these guys come – it’s just not right – it doesn’t fit."

A check with police garnered a couple chuckles but no hard evidence the crotch crowd is causing any problems outside of maybe polluting the streetscape for Lattelanders.

"I used to work down on the Plaza and those crotch rocket people have been gathering there forever," says KCPD spokesman Steve Young. "And I can’t recall it ever being a problem, but if it is, we’d certainly handle it."

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32 Responses to Hearne: Crotch Rockert Alert; Befuddling Biker Blight Besets Plaza

  1. paulwilsonkc says:

    Hard left turn, stereo typing ahead!!
    I’ve ridden since I was 3 when my father, who collected Indians and Cushman

  2. Orphan of the Road says:

    I don’t want a pickle
    Paul, do you remember the tunnel underneath the Plaza which came out on Brush Creek? Every weekend it would buzz as riders from all across town did their best to annoy the swells. You came out of the tunnel, quick exit down Ward Parkway. Once we had over 100 bikes.

    Paul, we call ’em squids. Or organ donors. A motorcycle is basically a pair of gyroscopes linked on an axis. Almost impossible to knock down unless influenced by outside forces. Doing it on public streets with traffic is insane. Most of the stunts are not that hard (learning, different story). Kenny Pressgrove and Jerry Cobb once wheelied from Joe Wilson’s KS shop to Lawence, where they ran out of gas.

    You can go out today and buy a motorcycle which will do 150-mph out of the crate. Put on your $400 helmet and your best shorts and tank-top and you can be a squid.

    Once took a OW31 Yamaha around the track at Bridgehampton. Had to have the seat surgically removed.

  3. paulwilsonkc says:

    I understand. Orphan
    I had a guy ask me if I liked the little black non-helmet that barely cover the top half of your skull. He said they were not pain the ass to wear and only cost $50.00! I told him, I think thats a PERFECT helmet if the top half of your skull is all you need to protect, and if you have a $50 brain, a $50 dollar helmet outta do the trick!!

    And, no, I do NOT remember a tunnel on the Plaza, but my Plaza days started on weekends up here from HS to see my grandfather who lived on the Plaza, around ’71. I remember weekend concerts on Volker, but only because I was told I was there. I’m sure you understand.

    The problem with the 150mph outta the crate bike is that, 99% of the time, thats a FIRST BIKE for some of these kids. That, on face value alone, is insane! I “learned” on by trike, then a little Honda 50, then a Dream, then a BSA rocket and then a MONSTEROUS Honda 350!! I worked by way up to bigger stuff. Parents are nuts to sign off on one of these things today and hand the keys to a kid with a mind full of mush!!

  4. Smartman says:

    Biker Bar?
    Glazer owned a wanna be biker bar. The Cold Club in KCK was a REAL Biker Bar. Dewey and Wino knew how to throw a party. Sex, underage sex, drugs, knifes, guns, fist fights and the occasional death. The beer was ice cold, the drinks were stiffer than rebar and the food was hearty. Ah, the good old days.

    Wilson nailed it. Most of the Plaza guys and gals are cafe racer and touring types. Triumph’s, Ducatti’s, Aprilla’s, BMW’s and KLR’s.

    Then you have the assholes with the 120db rice burner and V-Twin exhausts that try to break the sound barrier in between stoplights. That’s just not responsible bike riding or ownership. Squids indeed!

  5. paulwilsonkc says:

    Smartman nailed it MORE!
    There was a biker bar somewhere over by the old I-70 drag strip we stumbled across one Saturday on a ride, I don

  6. Mary says:

    Seems to me that these motorcycle enthusiasts are not causing any trouble, so what’s the beef? Sounds like these are affluent people, showing off there cool rides, and meeting with others of like interests. I say, leave them alone.

  7. paulwilsonkc says:

    Mary – winner, winner, chicken dinner!
    Thats exactly the point.

  8. Hearne says:

    Not trying to mount a crusade against them…
    It just struck me as kinda funny after zeroing in on them for a few minutes.

    They are breaking the law, however. Both the legal parking and the no parking. And while they may enjoy a cup of coffee here and there, it’s mostly an hours long game of pocket pool.

    I think it’s kinda funny, like what’s the point? Reminds me of small town rural America where the teenagers park their rides and just hang out. Now those guys, I think, are looking for love. These guys? Doubt it.

  9. Orphan of the Road says:

    Ask your pal Lesak
    He rides with a bunch on the weekends, they meet up for breakfast and then a ride. Plaza is often a meeting spot after breakfast before the ride.

    Sturgis is now the largest gathering of trailer-towers in the world. Daytona is a close second next week. Bikers don’t let rain or a little cold deter them. I rode every day for five-years there wasn’t ice on the roads. Only seven-miles to work but when it was zero…

    Hearne, you want to clarify the legal parking being illegal? Which is it?

  10. mike says:

    I agree with Mary. Some people think anyone with a motorcycle or hot rod car is automatically a hoodlum. Maybe they watched too many low budget movies growing up. Those are hobbies like anything else. If they are not causing any trouble, leave them alone. The cops have it right on this one.

  11. paulwilsonkc says:

    Hearne, its pocket pool if you dont love the hobby
    I know one of the guys who sent an engine to Europe for a special rebuild. Some of these are, as I said, pieces of art. Some are very, very rare bikes. You can sink $50K in one before you know it for the rare, upscale stuff. And there is a brotherhood, so if you come in on your $5K cafe racer built in your own garage, it levels the field and you’re one of the group. Its like cigar and pipe smokers, there’s a built in allegience. Its a lot like super car owners here is town, they meet, compare notes, take a touring drive, all for the love of what they are into.

    Orphan, my last bike I put 28K miles on it in 18 months. I was doing consulting work in Phoenix & Florida. Any time I could add a couple days on the front or back of the trip, I’d pack my tour bags and ride the bike. Its a great hobby, Hearne, not something everyone can relate to, but I can spend an hour sitting on my ass at a coffee shop reading a book….. so what do I know?

  12. Smartman says:

    @ Wilson and orphan
    Have you ever gone to Ralph Wayne’s Backyard Bike Show? If not, google it and check out the pics. It’s a great event. Thousands of bikers of all stripes and colors show up. Even the 2%’s show up and behave. The bikes on display are to die for. Not a cop to be seen anywhere. On that day, at least we are all brothers.

  13. Orphan of the Road says:

    Smartman
    Ralph Wayne’s is a premier event. The toast of KC’s motorcycling past is always there. Ralph is a helluva a guy and throws the best party in KC.

    Don the Barber has probably floor-planned more new motorcycles than most banks. If you know Weird Wally, he can tell you about us running through that tunnel.

    My son’s club marks their 100th anniversary this year, the Reading Motorcycle Club.

  14. paulwilsonkc says:

    Smartman, used to go to waynes a lot
    when he was down on the Blvd in that old, dank brick building that was a treasure trove of parts and frames. I never heard of the yard party, though. I’ll Google it up, slow morning at the office, I need some entertainment!

  15. Smartman says:

    @ Paul Wilson
    Paul. You need to check out the yard party this year. It’s grown from a small gathering of a couple dozen guys into a mega event that attracts thousands. All gathered truly represent the brotherhood and sisterhood of the best of what riding is all about. People stand in line for HOURS just to buy the damn t-shirts. It’s pretty special.

  16. paulwilsonkc says:

    Smartman, its in my planner already, thanks to you
    First Saturday of October, I’ll be there. Hearne will later write he saw me in the corner playing “pocket pool”, but we cant be swayed by that!! I’ll be there with the other geeezers and REAL riders, drooling. I wont be in my Johnny Dares Harley Davidson of VEGAS tee shirt.
    Thanks for the tip, Smart.

  17. Bella says:

    Save the Plaza
    Rednecks on motorcycles? Crowd of irrelevants? Non decent looking bikers? CAROUSING AROUND BELOVED COUNTRY CLUB PLAZA? Are there any “Save the Plaza” signs around. We need those put up STAT!! Rolls eyes….

  18. paulwilsonkc says:

    Your’re funny, Bella
    Im with you. Like I said earlier, I’d rather ban the tanorexic, uppity Plaza chics and the snooty guys before I’d kick the biker types off. But, I have a huge appreciation for vintage bikes and people who love their hobbies, relatively little for phoney baloney people. I’m far happier driving down there in my choice of a VINTAGE something… than breaking out my Lambo and trying to get people to notice me! One, I dont need the attention and, two, I dont want to distract anyone from catching up on the new in their Country Club de jur Newsletter!

  19. Brisbane Craddock says:

    Hearne Might Be Happy
    If they roped off some space for him and his funny little Fiart turd box. He and his eurotrash wannabe pals could gather up with their painted on jeans and skull t-shirts, and really haul in the silicone Plaza foxes. He’s far too cool for a souped-up Vespa.

  20. paulwilsonkc says:

    Hey, Bris…. I LOVE the Fiat and Im not GAY!!
    And, not to stand up for Hearne, but a Vespa buyer has to be in the same demo as a Fiat….. I’d bet he’s a secret rider. I love them as well, but you know what they say about fat girls and mopeds………….?

  21. kcfred says:

    Bikers?
    These aren’t bikers. Sons of Anarchy are bikers. These guy are little boys, riding their parent financed “crotch rokets” to show they’re cool. Quite a story in St. Louis when about a hundred or them showed up on I 270 one afternoon and decided to do their stunts until one of them killed himself by hitting a barricade at about 90mph. They haven’t been back. I say, let them do their wheelies at 100 mph on the Interstate during traffic. One less for the Darwin pool. These aren’t bikers, they are idiots.

  22. Orphan of the Road says:

    Paul
    During the early years of my delinquency I raced anything with two-wheels. Met a mechanic at Engle-Jones, Charley was a Class C racer and he had a wooden leg. Smartman may know him if was part of the Triumph-BSA-Harley racing of the 70s. Drag racing or dirt track, those guys are the honored at Ralph’s.

    Maybe Hearne will get a Vespa? http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WcxHmbJ8VlE

  23. paulwilsonkc says:

    KCFRED, thats really not who these latte land guys are
    I know the type of riders youre talking about, dislike them just as much, but these guys are the euro bike higher end dudes. Yeah, there are some kling-ons riding what you described, but for the most part they are more rare, more exotic collector bikes.

  24. kcfred says:

    Oh
    …nevermind, then.

  25. Bella says:

    Save the Plaza
    As for what motivates them to pick the Plaza, “I have no idea, that’s a really good question,” says Walking Company staffer Nikki. “They just chill out there every weekend – I think they do it to pick up chicks.”

    Did she really say that? Lots of people go to to the Plaza to “chill out” maybe drink, eat, shop, go to movies, sightsee and maybe to pick up the opposite sex or be picked up. Is she saying it’s ok for the people she approves of to do these things and shop at the Walking Company, but not the rednecks on crotch rockets? And there are too few “decent looking ones” to make her happy. Sounds like the Walking Company needs a spokesperson and it shouldn’t be Nikki.

    Now, where did I put my Plaza needs saving signs? Eyes rolling…again.

  26. paulwilsonkc says:

    Bella, it was either Nikki or the Topsy’s chick….
    … both equally invalid spokepeople!

    As I pointed out, these guys arent the typical Plaza goers, but its centrally located and gives them passers by who can see their rolling art pieces! They arent the guys in pressed jeans and mail order Harley shirts, they are builders, collectors and fans. The local crotch rocket boys that show up are the misfits!

    Nikki Walkingshoe should get on Google and look up the 59 Club, the original English cafe racer club and see what those guys look like! They are devoted to their hobby and their bikes. They arent attired in RL or Polo and dont want to be.

    If I had my BSA Rocket back, I’d be down there with them waiting for Nikki to look my way so I could tell her how painfully UNhip she is!

  27. Hearne says:

    I think the point Nikki was making was…
    That while lots of people all shapes, sizes and kinds frequent the Plaza, not many of them cruise to the exact (illegal) location and plant themselves there for all to see, while they do little else other than play pocket pool and present their backsides to the customers at Latteland.

  28. paulwilsonkc says:

    I think the point Paul was trying to make was…
    many youth of all shapes, sizes and colors, frequent the Plaza and cruise (walk), illegally, (see “loitering”) to the exact location (in front of the theatre) and plant themselves there for all to see, while the do little else other than play thug version of pocket pool and present (quite literally) their backsides to the customers.

    OK, Im going to do a Glazer and extoll my own greatness after that one!

  29. Hearne says:

    Hold the touchdown dance…
    Because Kansas City passed a curfew law last year to dispense with those fine folks

  30. Mary says:

    This whole article and the comments that have ensued are ridiculous! These motorcycle enthusiasts apparently have never caused any trouble…. I don’t see the point of this article by even attempting to put them down. “Real news” must have been hard up to find this week…. Again… LEAVE THESE GUYS ALONE!!

  31. mike says:

    reply to hearne
    The curfew was passed to keep minors from loitering on the plaza after hours. It was not passed for adult motorcycle enthusiasts. These minors were being dumped off there by there parents on weekend and were causing problems leading to the curfew. These motorcyclists are not breaking the law by being there. The cops are not bothering these guys because they have no reason to. The funny thing to me though is that you have unwittingly helped promote the Ralph Wayne’s Backyard Bike Show. Maybe you should go to it yourself. You might find out some of these people are really cool.

  32. paulwilsonkc says:

    No, no nanette… the dance is on!
    Curfew only handles problems AFTER the curfew. I’ve seen it fist hand, two weeks ago, before the curfew, same problem.

    And Mike, you’re right. Even funnier than them NOT being bothered for parking there, these ARE the good guys, the real super-interest bikers, not the problem makers. That may be half of why the cops dont pay close attention to the parking zone info. On the other hand, we were down there a couple weeks ago where a big, obnoxious limo was double parked at the patio gate to Cheese Cake Factory. It had a KCMO cop car, lights on, sitting behind it waiting for it to move. The limo driver stayed in his seat, didnt move an inch. I was looking for parking and came around the corner 5 times in 5 minutes, the LAST time around the cop finally got out and went to the drivers window and got him to move.

    Im all for these guys and thanks to this discussion, Waynes is in my book for next October! Thanks, Hearne, you can come too!

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